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'G8 debt cancellation should be broadened'

01.01.70

Lusaka - The G8's debt cancellation for the world's poorest nations is not enough to help those who are to benefit from the initiative, African civil society representatives said on Tuesday.

The statement was made at conference in the Zambian capital Lusaka where representatives of highly-indebted poor African countries within the Commonwealth group of nations, Western donors and multilateral financing institutions have gathered to map out strategies for implementing and managing the G8 debt relief initiative.

The civil society organizations present included among others the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (Afrodad) as well as various local civic bodies from Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Civil society leaders faulted the G8-driven Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative for being conditional and not covering all the countries in need.

Write-off of foreign debt
The G8 initiative only eliminated foreign debt owed to the multilateral lending institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), African Development Bank, and World Bank, they pointed out.

"It brings no new resources because relief under the G8 initiative reduces the aid available from other sources," a civil society spokesperson said.

They also noted that conditions for accessing aid to poor countries needed to be relaxed, with social indicators as well as economic performance being included as prerequisites for debt relief.

Under the initiative, 19 of the world's poorest nations are in line to receive a 100 percent write-off of foreign debt from the G8 through the IMF, the World Bank and the Africa Development Bank.

Of these 19, 13 are in Africa while a further 10 countries on IMF and World Bank supported poverty reduction and structural reform programmes in sub-Saharan Africa could also qualify for debt relief. - Sapa-dpa

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